Friday, February 24, 2006

Hey Noni Nonya

Beef Rendang

This should have been one of my food challenges for 2006. I’ve tried for quite a while to master the delicacies of this luscious Malaysian or Indonesian dish, but it always turns out wrong. Not spicy enough, too spicy, not enough lemongrass – something always missing, too runny, too gluggy, too oily, not oily enough, no depth of flavour. Maybe my standards are unrealistically high. For years, every Xmas when I used to visit Wellington, NZ, I went to great restaurant called Istana Malaysia, just off the main drag that does the best Rendang outside KL. Mine never tastes that good. Or maybe I’m a gweilo trying to cook Nonya and I’m fated to never get it right. But this has at least changed a bit today. I’ve managed to lift my game and produce a palatable and pretty good tasting Rendang. I’d need an opinion from a taster with south east Asian heritage to pick up any problems and give me feedback, but my willing guinea pig Miss Liss reckons it was ok. She had 2 helping so I know it wasn’t just politeness.

Those of you out there who know better, please give me some tips if I’ve missed an ingredient or done it wrong. All feedback greatly appreciated.

For 1kg of cubed and trimmed chuck steak -

Spice paste to pound, or wiz in Mr Buzzy:
2 stalks of lemongrass, tender part sliced
3 small or 2 medium onions, chopped
2 cloves of garlic
5 chillies, chopped
3 teaspoons ground coriander
3 teaspoons ground cumin
6 candelnuts
5cm piece of fresh galangal, chopped

Buzz it all up, and in a medium-heated wok, with 2 tablespoons of peanut or vegetable oil, fry the paste with:

1 stalk of lemongrass, bruised
4 star anise
2 cardamom pods
2 cloves
½ stick of cinnamon

Add the beef and coat in the spice paste for a few minutes then add:

500 mls of coconut milk
2 tablespoons of tamarind concentrate (or 1/2 cup of tamarind water made from a big tablespoon of tamarind pulp)

Let this simmer for an hour uncovered until the meat is tender.

Add 2 tablespoons of kecap manis and a chiffonade of 3 kaffir lime leaves. Simmer until the liquid has all but evaporated and the Rendang is quite dry. For me this took about 5 hours to get really thick and unctuous.

The taste was great – the flavours all married together, the chilli was there but not too dominant, it was fragrant with galangal and lemongrass. Despite all that really slow cooking the meat was still just a little resistant. Perhaps I should vary the cut of meat? Whatever the case it was my best attempt to date so I’m a well pleased gweilo :)


Anonymous augustusgloop said...

Sounds great. I'm no beef rendang expert so I applaud your efforts. 6hrs of cooking? Wow...

10:48 AM  
Anonymous Sue said...

Looks yummy! I'll get my mum's advice. I think she makes the best beef rendang. Or as I call it. Rendang-dang-dang-dang. It annoys her. heh.

5:54 PM  
Blogger Reb said...

Well AG at least you don't have to stand ans stir it :) - like you do risotto!

Thanks Sue - would value your mum's rendang-a-ding dong advice

7:42 AM  
Anonymous Oseary said...

Thanks for the Caesar recipe... :-) I'll mix it up soon. My ? to you is, do I really need the anchovies? This dressing is for my girlfriend, and I doubt she'd like them. lol...

Gorgeous cat by the way (on the post below)!!!

Thanks again!!

4:14 AM  
Blogger Reb said...

To anchovy or not to anchovy ... an eternal question. Well, being a anchovy lover from way back I reckon they're essential, but I have omitted them for anchovy haters without too much drama. However the nice thing about this recipe, as far as the anti-anchovy league goes, is that honestly you can't really taste the 'anchovy-ness' and all they do is make it zingy and a bit salty.

Min says thank you for the nice comment (she's a polite abyssinian) - and thanks for dropping by Oseary!

9:27 AM  
Blogger Ange said...

Looks great, love a good curry, either eating out or cooking up my own, have not made a renadang yet, will have to add it to my list

1:36 PM  
Blogger Reb said...

Well if you have any added extras when you make it, Ange, let me know - I'm in pursuit of the perfect Rendang and hope the next itteration is even better than this one!

4:03 PM  
Anonymous Susan said...

Hi Rebecca,
No expert here but I've found Charmaine Solomon's approach to give really tender meat - her recipe doesn't require the aromatics to be fried up, so you pile everything in the pot on top of the meat then start off on low fire. Because of this the meat isn't exposed to high heat until the end of cooking and this may be why it turns out so tender. It's a darn good rendang too..

12:31 AM  
Blogger Reb said...

Thanks Susan - I'll try the CS approach next time. You can always trust her recipes.

8:57 AM  

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